You Asked, We Answered

Collectors and gamers are inherently inquisitive, much like some of our favorite characters who question nearly everything—from Aloy uncovering the mysteries of her post-apocalyptic world in the Horizon franchise to Joel and Ellie’s journey through zombie-afflicted lands in The Last of Us. Even Link, the famously silent protagonist, questions the world around him across different iterations of The Legend of Zelda.

The hobby is curious by nature, and the collecting of physical media like video games and movies is still a fairly new concept in the space. And when you’re shipping off your precious items for authentication and grading, you’re bound to have questions.

That’s why WATA hosted an AMA, so you could ask Claire Shelton, Head of WATA, and Dan Gomez, Head of Authentication for PSA Pop Culture all of your burning questions.

Without further ado, let’s give you some answers:

What is the coolest item you’ve seen submitted to WATA?

Claire: The most meaningful game in my memory was a cart-only order, where the cart shell had writing from the customer’s mother who recently passed away. I was able to add a few extra label details as a tribute to such a significant item and it means so much to me that the customer was willing to entrust us with preserving an item like this for decades to come.

Dan: A 1/1 Mbappe slipcover copy of FIFA 21 for PS4. These player-exclusive copies were distributed to players during the rating reveal event, where players learned what their ratings would be in the game.

What’s the latest on Pop Report updates?

Dan: We hope to continue providing more regular Pop Report updates in 2024, and we also hope to introduce the highly anticipated Pop Report for international games.

Will WATA ever grade actual DVDs of game-related content like bonus pre-order DVDs?

Dan: We’ve recently opened up film grading. Under this new offering, we can now grade DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K films in standard sizes. You can submit a plethora of films across various categories including action, anime, comedy, drama, horror, and more, as well as TV shows. (Just don’t send us your big box sets.)

The great news is you can submit film and video game submissions together—no need to create another order or ship separately. We’re proud to call WATA a one-stop shop for some of your favorite media—including games, film, and soundtracks. 

If a sealed game has a loose disc inside, is it worth sending in to get graded? Does removing stickers with your service mean that an item has no chance of getting an A++ seal rating?

Claire: A loose disc alone only results in a grade ceiling of a 9.4, so it can most definitely still be worth sending it in. A tremendous amount of sealed games do not achieve a 9.4 overall grade, so a loose disc is far from a death sentence in a grading sense.

Regarding sticker removals and A++ seal grades, this is largely dependent on the sticker type in question. Generally speaking, the smaller and lower-profile a sticker is, the better chance a game has at obtaining an A++ (or any higher seal grade it would receive with the sticker).

For large stickers and security stickers — which are prone to leaving seal imprints, even when expertly removed — an A++ seal grade is unlikely in these cases. That being said, the removal of these stickers can often increase a seal grade from an A to an A+.

What is the benefit of getting video games graded?

Claire: There are many reasons to get your video games — and films — graded.

Grading is the process of having your games professionally authenticated and assigned a grade based on their condition.

Game certification creates a consistent standard of authenticity and assessment that provides confidence to collectors, sellers, and buyers alike. Grading your games doesn’t just preserve them for your own benefit, it also gives you the option to eventually sell them to the highest bidder for some cold, hard cash. (If you want to, that is!)

But what if you want to play the games you collect without diminishing their market value?

Thankfully, game technology has advanced to the point where we have tools like the Everdrive that allow you to play your favorite vintage video games without needing to source physical discs or cartridges.

And over the last decade, companies like Nintendo have rolled out many classic offerings such as the Wii Virtual Console, the NES and SNES Classic, or the Nintendo Switch Online NES, SNES, and N64 suite of digital downloads that allow you to relive your retro gaming experiences with ease.

For a full deep-dive into game collecting, read through our Game Collecting 101.

How can I determine the value of a game before submitting?

Determining the value of your game is easier than you think—it just takes a little time and research.

The basics?

  • Find out if there are multiple variants of your game, and which one you have
  • Determine the relative rarity and condition of your game
  • Look up recent online sales on auction sites like eBay (only considering the same variant in similar conditions)

You can find a full breakdown of how to determine your game’s value here on pages 54-65.

What is the best way to package a game for submission to WATA?

If you need help figuring out how to best package your media for submission, take a look at this step-by-step guide.

Are there any plans in the immediate future for WATA to open up submissions for the remaining Japanese releases that aren’t currently covered (Famicom, Super Famicom, Game Boy, etc.)?

Claire: We’re always looking to expand our platform offerings across all mediums where we have expertise in research, authentication, and grading. This certainly includes international offerings, as long as there is a reasonable supply of available inventory for the platform. While we can’t announce any specific platforms at this time, keep an eye out later this year for some new offerings.

When can we re-holder our WATA games with the legacy case again?

Claire: Great news, the legacy case is available now for both new orders as well as re-holder orders! Just select the “WATA Legacy Holder” option at checkout, and as long as your item is from a platform we once served with the legacy case (i.e. excluding 3DS, Vita, etc. which are new-case exclusive), you can once again obtain our legacy case. Don’t wait too long though—it won’t be available forever.

I’m planning to get a WATA-graded game autographed. Will the previously-graded game receive the same numerical grade when I resubmit it to be re-graded, now that it’s autographed?

Claire: As long as the condition of the game is unharmed in the process of the case removal — as well as the signing process — the previously-graded game’s grade will be retained.

Because this requires additional processing steps compared to traditional re-holders, here are a few tips:

  • Include your game’s original WATA label (the entire top of the case is fine) so we can deactivate your original certification on the WATA Population Report
  • Submit your re-grade as a new order, not a re-holder order

Does WATA still grade ROM HACKS CIB games?

Dan: ROM hacks that have received licensing/approval are allowed to be submitted with proof of licensing/approval. You can find more information regarding this policy here

Are there plans to implement cross-grading from other companies with a minimum grade component?

Claire: No, there are no plans for a minimum grade requirement. Unfortunately, a service like this is not one we believe is possible in good faith while maintaining accurate grading. As much as we would like to cross over every game you’d like to submit, we understand that a crossover needs to make sense for all parties. 

There is a hard truth with this process that other companies can sometimes ignore:

It is virtually impossible to accurately assess any
graded video game while it’s still encapsulated. 

This applies to all case styles from all grading companies, WATA’s cases included. When you need to assess through a blister layer, sometimes a mylar layer (as well as the case itself), you simply cannot see everything you need to see to be able to ascertain a specific grade. The same applies to cases without blisters, as thick acrylic bars around the sides of a game can mask significant damage or wear. While you can make an educated guess based on what you can see, you can never be 100% sure until the item is out of its original case and it can be independently evaluated. 

For WATA, there is a significant integrity issue with guaranteeing an equal-or-higher cross-system, as you could always uncover something obscured to the eye while still encapsulated. The only way I can rationalize another company utilizing a program like this is that they trust our personnel and processes so much that they know we got the grade right the first time around—and that’s high praise, if so.

What’s the best way to store WATA cases?

Claire: There are so many ways to store WATA cases, you have an incredible amount of freedom in deciding how to store them.

Here are some general rules and ideas:

  • Avoid placing graded games in direct sunlight. While our cases do feature UV resistance, UV light will impact virtually everything on Earth with enough exposure.
  • For open storage of WATA cases, there are a variety of methods and arrangements that look fantastic.


PHOTO CREDIT: @halofan04/IG


PHOTO CREDIT: @lowendn64/IG


PHOTO CREDIT: @maddogearle/IG

  • For deep storage of WATA cases, storage boxes or bins, like comic long boxes, can be a great, affordable, and space-efficient option.

How do I gain access to the WATA Dealer Program?

Dan: You can email us at [email protected] for more information about our dealer program. 

What did the Deep badge do when it was available?

Claire: The Deep Badge is a dual-function authentication tool. In addition to a surface-level 3D image, it also includes an inner light-refracting effect called a magnifying moire.

It looks like an ordinary badge with a 3D image on the outside, but when you hold it close to your eye, you see an array of 3D images hidden beneath the surface showing an authentication message. In this case, it’s “OK OK OK OK”. It’s extremely awesome technology.